When we go to church on the Lord’s Day or on special occasions meet with the congregation for worship, we go to meet God. I do not know how deeply this idea is imbedded in your soul, but I am sure that you know that this is the truth. Knowing the truth, however, is not sufficient. The truth must be lived and even the best of us must admit that our going to church is not nearly always in the consciousness that we have an appointment with the Lord. The God of heaven and earth. We are often far more conscious of the fact that we are going to meet people. For that reason we pay particular attention to our clothes. We usually wear the best we have and are concerned about the impression which we and our children will make upon those who go to church with us. Of course this is not wrong. Also by means of our outward appearance we build our reputation, Our name, and a good name is better than riches. Yet we are certainly willing to admit that if our name and reputation were built upon nothing more solid than the clothes we wear, that reputation would not be something of which to be proud.
When we go to church we often think of the minister, who will be in charge of the service. Sometimes this has a great deal to do with our eagerness to go to church. If we love our minister, or if there should be a guest preacher with it good reputation, we will be more ready to go to church than if the opposite is true. The pleasure with which we go to church and our expectation of a blessing many a time stand in close relation to our estimation of the man who will occupy the pulpit. It is true that all servants of the Lord have not the same talents. Some have received great gifts from the Lord. which enables them to bring the gospel message in it far more pleasing manner than those who have only average gifts or even less than average.
And yet whatever value there may be in such consideration; the only good reason for going to church is that our God calls us there, that He will meet with us, speaking to our souls of the peace which passeth all understanding and allowing us to speak to Him words of praise and adoration as well as making known unto Him our needs. The only right way in going to church is to go in the consciousness that God is there and that we may fellowship with Him.
We must prepare to meet our God. This lesson was taught the Israelites in the desert. When Jehovah came to speak with them from the mount, they had to sanctify themselves “today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready against the third day.” When Moses is called to draw near unto God, when He appeared to him in the burning bush, he is told to withdraw his shoes from his feet, for the place where he stood was holy ground.
The Lord, our God, is the Creator or Heaven and earth. He is the Sovereign God, who holds the reigns of government in His hands. Moreover He is Holy and Righteous. and those who worship Him must worship in reverence and awe. To meet Him requires preparation so that we may be in the right frame of mind. How little do we think about this. There is often so little and sometimes no preparation at all to go to meet our God.
Such preparation may well start on the day before. It was a good custom on the part of many of our grandfathers and grandmothers when they began to rest from their daily labors on Saturday afternoon and evening. When the food to be consumed on the Lord’s Day was as much as possible prepared on the day before. And the Saturday evening was spent quietly at home. The rule with many was to retire a little earlier in order that on Sunday morning the family might be well rested. To arise early enough so that there was no rushing on Sunday morning in order to be able to reach the church on lime. We grant that all this could easily be nothing but form; but for the devout and pious heart there was preparation in all this for the hour and day of worship.
Today it is often so different. Saturday evening is the evening of going out. Many are at a baseball game or during the winter to a wild hockey game. And especially in these summer days the discussion either before or after the sermon is the baseball standing of ball clubs. Getting to bed late, the family awakes on Sun· day morning in the nick of time to rush to the service. Sometimes not having the time for a quiet breakfast and family devotion. Rushing out to meet God? You can be sure that this is not the case. That is the last thing many think about when going to church. And as a result they do not meet God at all. They have no fellowship with Him and instead of receiving a blessing, the judgment of the Lord rests upon them.
How do you go to church? It is well that we give an account to ourselves about this. Let us be honest and not afraid to judge ourselves. There is indeed need of repentance in this respect. Going to church is with many a tradition and not much more. No wonder that the church does not mean very much to them. That they ca n upon the Slightest excuse absent themselves from the house of the Lord. No wonder they find so much to criticize and so little reason for praise. Many cannot honestly say: “I was glad when they said unto me. Let us go into the house of Jehovah.” Those who in true piety of heart seek fellowship with the Most High, will prepare themselves carefully. They will find time for quiet meditation and prayer, they will experience: “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Jehovah of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of Jehovah.”